Duke-UNC: Prepare for Sensory Overload

Jason RitchieContributor IFebruary 9, 2009

It happens every February—ESPN's "Rivalry Week," bringing with it the overload of highlights, lowlights, and sound bites to present the annual meeting between Duke and UNC.

There will be 10-minute segments on SportsCenter, previews, predictions, and opinions from everyone ESPN can find to talk about the game—interviews with former players, current students, maybe even a documentary of life in "Krzyzewskiville."

And all of this will be brought to you non-stop, nation-wide, so you guys in Alaska can catch up on every aspect of the Duke-UNC rivalry.

Remember Henderson's elbow? You'll see that about 50 times between now and 9:00 pm ET Wednesday night. Jeff Capel's half-court shot? Stackhouse's reverse dunk? You'll get it all.

But is all of that necessary? Do people in Texas and Oklahoma care more about Duke-UNC than North Carolinians do about the Red River Rivalry?

Sure, it is a big game that's almost always nationally relevant. It usually has an impact that is felt on Selection Sunday.

But, the only people that really—and I mean really—want to see all the hype and hoopla are the fans of the teams involved.

I've heard many a fan of other schools vehemently curse all the coverage this game gets. And I can't say that I blame them. ESPN acts like this is the most important game of the season, and in reality, that's only true for Duke and UNC fans.

It's not that I don't love the game. I do. I've grown up in the middle of it. So yes. Hype the game, but do it locally.

People in Los Angeles want to hear Dick "Dickie V" Vitale screaming about UCLA, not Duke-UNC. There's no real need to subject the entire country to it.

In a way, I think all the hype devalues the rivalry. It makes it more of a spectacle—a show these kids have to put on, instead of what it should be: another battle between two national powerhouses, two fanbases that really don't like each other, and two coaches that love to take the occasional jab at each other. A battle for bragging rights, conference standings, and a top NCAA seeding.

ESPN has turned it into a circus and they need to stop.